There’s going to be an embarrassment of nerdy riches at the Colorado Convention Center this weekend, June 30 through July 2, when Denver Comic Con returns for a sixth successful year. If the annual increase in attendance tells us anything, it’s that DCC gets bigger — and in a lot of ways better — every summer, and that means that even the three days slated for the celebration may well prove insufficient if you want to see everything. Not only that, but some important rules have changed, so there’s even more to consider this year in terms of strategizing, planning and making the most of the weekend of pop-culture goodness.
In that spirit, here's a list of things to keep in mind as you’re making your schedule — you know, aside from printing out and playing DCC Bingo during your downtime. If you have other suggestions, share them in a comment so we can build a collective Borg-like database of how to do DCC right. In the meantime, ten rules to remember:
10. Don’t Wear a Thong
Cosplay is a huge part of comic-book conventions, and has been for years now — and it’s exploded in the last decade or so. But in keeping with the family-friendy goals of the event, DCC has decided this year to get a little more conservative with the dress code. That means no exposed chests (no underboob or side-boob, either), no butt-cheeks (that’s plumbers butt or thongs), and no bare feet. These rules are unisex, so while they rule out Red Sonja, they also nix Conan; while this might depress some of the more prurient interests of attendees, it could also remove the need for a “Cosplay Is Not Consent” program, which reminds people not to harass costumed participants, sexually or otherwise. Best line in the new rules: “The illusion of nudity is still nudity.” It’s so…zen. Truly a DCC koan to ponder while in line.
9. …or Try to Carry a (Prop) Weapon
After a potential tragedy was blocked at the Phoenix Comicon earlier this year, the organizers of DCC are making every effort to allow what they can in regards to stage weaponry while still keeping attendees safe. As a result, a whole slew of weapons are prohibited: anything that fires projectiles (even Nerf bullets!), anything metal or wooden, and so on. Yes, even if they’re props — the full list is here, and while there’s some gray area, count on the DCC security erring on the side of caution. Essentially, the only things that will be allowed in are those made of made of foam rubber, soft plastics, or cardboard — and even then, there's no guarantee. Probably better to leave anything weapon-like at home — which has the added bonus of freeing up a hand to bag more swag.
8. Pack a Backpack
Whether or not you’re cosplaying (more on that below), you’ll be wise to bring a backpack — or at least something to sling over your shoulder so you don’t have to carry plastic grocery-style bags around with you when you buy something. Besides, bringing a pack means that you can not only buy stuff, you can bring stuff, too. Like quick (and healthy) energy boosts, some spare bags and boards to carefully store that rare comic you happened across in the dollar box, bottled water and iPhones and tablets and a spare pen for autographs. And speaking of drinks — make sure you’re watching yourself. If you’re sipping a drink and then carelessly gesture at a booth over a box of unbagged comics — well, that triple-caf vanilla latte just got a lot more expensive.
7. You Don’t Have to Eat at the Convention Center
Not that the vendors inside are terrible — last year a surprising number of small-business folks were selling some delicious stuff in the Food Court, from hand-squeezed lemonade to pork barbecue sandwiches to brats to fresh-fried doughnuts. Still, the prices on the inside are clearly going to be somewhat inflated, so don’t be afraid to venture outside into Denver’s downtown. Not only will you find that lots of places are celebrating comic-con right along with you (the sincere nerd-appreciation folks over at Ace Eat Serve on East 17th Avenue designed a themed cocktail called The Blue Marvel just for the occasion — and if you’re in costume, you get a free hour of ping-pong!), but you’ll also get a much-needed jolt of sunshine.
6. Support the Creatives
Sure, you might want to see your favorite comic-book artists (Neil Adams, Jae Lee, Frank Cho, Allen Bellman and too many others to list) and writers (Larry Hama, Art Baltazar, Andy Mangels and more) while you’re at the convention — and by all means, you should. But don’t forget to support the aspirations of the pencilers, inkers and storytellers who are just starting out. Buying a piece of art, or a book that you hadn’t yet heard of, or a locally-grown comic book isn’t just good karma — you just might be able to someday say that you knew that specific creator back in the day.
Keep reading for five more Comic Con rules.
5. Grooming Is Important
Yeah, it’s a cliché, but there’s a reason that some clichés become clichés — because on some level, they can be true. And this one is. Having been to more than my share of conventions (comic book, gaming, what have you), I can verify: There are people at these events who for some reason don’t believe they need to subscribe to the basic rules of society. We all do. And that means, at minimum, showers and deodorant. And maybe less Axe Body Spray there, chief.
4. See the Stars (but Don’t Snap Shots)
Yes, it’s very exciting that (fill in the name of your celebrity crush/personal hero/famous person who’s signing autographs at DCC this year here) will be nearby, and — if you pony up the not-insignificant dough to do so —possibly available to meet. (Just don't try to sneak a free photo; that's very much frowned upon.) Is it worth it to stand in what could be a very long line to see Weird Al Yankovic, Nathan Fillion, the Weasley twins from Harry Potter, much of the cast from Stranger Things, the actors who are currently playing Heroes for Hire (and neo-Defenders) Luke Cage and Danny Rand, and too many more to list? (But you can find a complete listing on the DCC website.) Well, only you can answer that, but really? If you’re at the convention, the answer is probably yes. Adam West came in 2014, and now he’s gone. Carrie Fisher had to cancel just last year, and now we’ve lost our chance to see her at DCC at all. You’ll only have so many chances to meet your personal heroes —
don’t miss out.
3. I AM BREWT
Every year, one of the don’t-miss aspects of Denver Comic Con — and one that definitely represents our beer-loving home state — is the traditional DCC brew. In years past, it’s been called “The Fantastic Pour,” “Brews Wayne,” “Hulk’s Mash” and last year, in a flourishing wand-tip to the late Alan Rickman, “Snape-ricot.” This year’s winner? A bohemian pilsner that’s been dubbed I AM BREWT, which will not only get you good and toasty, but if you’re ever catastrophically hurtling toward Earth, could create a protective cocoon around you, save your life, and then adorably dance to Michael Jackson hits from the 1970s. (Okay, that second part is not guaranteed.)
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2. Buy Local
Most of the vendors at DCC are local, and around waiting to sell you comic-book goodness for most of the other 362 days of the year. So by all means, check out what the big vendor that goes to every convention nationwide has to offer — but don’t forget to spend some time (and some cash!) on your friendly neighborhood comic or gaming store. They’re the good guys who keep the fantasy going even when the hobby isn’t center stage.
1. Remember That We’re All Nerds
Just be happy. When someone accidentally bumps you in the crowded aisles of the vendor floor, accept their quick “sorry!” with some grace. If someone doesn’t understand that there’s a line, by all means, tell them — but do so kindly. Because we’re all dogfaces. We’re all very, very different. But there’s one thing that we all have in common: we were all nerdy enough to buy a ticket to Denver Comic Con. We’re mutants. There’s something wrong with us, something very, very wrooong with us, but to right it, all we have to do is to be the great American fanboy or fangirl inside each of us. So dress up, read up, drink up, have fun, and be happy — Denver Comic Con style.